We are two weeks post-aerification so I wanted to give everyone an update on the course, as well as the projects our department aims to accomplish this fall.
- For the first time in several years, we aerified the course without rain interrupting. This helped the effectiveness and efficiency of the process immensely. More times than not, the recovery in the fall is much quicker than spring, reason being the soil temperatures are already warm, which promotes the turf to heal sooner. Since aerifying 2 weeks ago, we haven’t seen any measurable rain, which has hampered that last 10% of recovery.
- Greens are in great shape, maybe not quite the speeds you’re used to, but with this heat and humidity, they are a touch puffy and sticky. This weather also prevents us from really pushing them hard, as if we did, the aerification holes would re-open.
- After refilling the thousands of divots that get swept out during the aerification/topdressing process, the tee boxes are back in great shape. Remember-Please always replace your divots on tees, because as the soil temperatures drop over the next few weeks, germination of divot mix will cease.
- Approaches and fairways are also close to “normal” conditions. The deep-tine process takes two weeks, thus why we close holes as we work on them to speed the process (as well as for safety). As you can see from the two pictures below, the last 10% of recovery is needed on most holes. This is where we need that rainfall to promote the final recovery. The fairway soils are very dry because of the lack of rain, as well as the open holes transpiring moisture. One measurable rainfall will do us wonders. Deep-tining our approaches and fairways is the single most important cultural practice we complete all year, well worth the time and effort. Thanks for being patient and skipping closed holes while we worked hard to complete the process as quickly as possible.
- Each year the Greens Committee and Board of Directors reviews at our native areas. Native areas are areas where we just stopped mowing the rough and let whatever variety of turf grow up. We have been converting native areas to Fescue for the past 4 years. Converting these areas to Fescue improves playability because of the thinner stand it provides. Eventually, it’s also much more aesthetically pleasing than the native grasses. However, the Fescue takes 3 years to fully mature into it’s desirable form. The area below, in between 10 green and 11 tee, won’t reach maturity until the fall of 2018. As it matures, it will become even more thin and wispy.
- This fall, we will be re-grassing the native area between 3 tee and 5 green to Fescue. The Greens Committee and BOD has determined that this area was the next priority to regrass, mainly because of blind 2nd shots hit into 5 green, and the frequency of lost balls in the “native” area.
We are removing several trees in the process, for several reasons. First, we want the area of Fescue to the right of 5 green to be as thin as possible for playability reasons. If there is shade on the Fescue, we cannot be successful in reaching our goals. Several trees are Ash and Boxelder that are in serious decline. There are also 2 Silver Maple trees that will be removed. I’ve pointed them out below.
These trees make a complete mess of 2 and 5 green with Samara seeds in the spring, and take countless hours of labor blowing each day. Seeing this seed should bring back bad memories of trying to make a 12 footer with “helicopters” coating the greens, making it more like Plinko than golf. It’s one of the more undesirable trees on golf courses because of the mess it makes, it’s soft and weak wood, which breaks easily during winter months, as well as an extremely aggressive surface root system that creates for poor turf surrounding it.
These two trees also cast shade on, what will be the new Fescue area, and the back half of 5 green. Below is a picture from a phone app I’ve used for several years. It tracks the traverse of the sun, and projects when an area will see sunlight. Morning sunlight is the most important time of day for turf – it’s absolutely crucial for high performance and function. As you can see this time of year (yellow line in the picture below), the 5th green is in shade until after 8:00 am. At almost 9:00 am when I took this photo, the new Fescue area is still in shade. Removing these trees will not only promote a healthier stand of turf on the 5th green, but also keep the new Fescue area playable and enjoyable.
Removing these trees will also expose a fantastic native Hackberry tree (shown below), as well as the architecture of the 5th green. Once we are done removing the trees, grinding and filling the stumps, we will kill off the entire area, and reseed to Fescue. Once you see the area become brown from the herbicide applicaiton, please refrain from driving you cart in it, as you will kill seedlings with your tires.
- We will also be removing old topdressing “ridges” that were formed many years ago. Equipment that was used in the past distributed sand to the edges of collars and surrounds, creating a distinct ridge between the green’s height of cut and the surround turf. This ridge prevents us from easily re-capturing lost green space, as some greens have shrunk over time. The process of removing the ridge is slow and takes patience. In these areas, we cannot just lower the height of cut or the mowers will scalp the ridge, and the result will be dirt. Below is the 13th green, which has the most defined ridge on the course. As you can see, we’ve removed the sand build-up with a specialized machine, equipped with saw blades to remove the sand in the canopy. Over time, removing the built up sand will lower this area, allowing us to expand the green.
After cleaning up the sand, and rolling this area, our hope is that you won’t even notice. This isn’t a one-and-done endeavor, it will take multiple times over a few seasons. We will focus working on these areas in the fall because of the less stress on the turf, and recovery will be quicker. We cannot sod these areas as they are just too large, and the existing surround turf is of desirable quality.
- Other projects we will be working on over the next several weeks:
- Installing drainage to the right of #10 rough, left of #11 rough, and the beginning of #18 fairway
- Renovating the on-course bathrooms. We will only work on one bathroom at a time, and it will be closed while work is being completed
- Stump grinding old stumps in native areas
- Moving irrigation heads to edges of Fescue areas
- Replacing non-functioning irrigation isolation valves
- Making broadleaf weed herbicide applications to the entire 80 acres of rough
- Mowing down native and Fescue areas and cleaning up the debris, as well as making herbicide applications in those areas as well
- Planting wild grape vines on #6 fence to create more privacy from highway 280
- Planting trees around the perimeters of the golf course where Emerald Ash Borer is very active, as well as replacing newly planted trees that died of winter kill in 2016/2017
- Cutting down perennial flowers and removing annuals
I will attempt to highlight these other projects once we have started them. We are at 1/4 the size of staff this time of year from our “peak” so we can only accomplish so much. Mowing over 125 acres of turf still needs to take place, so we are hoping for some slightly cooler temps so the turf begins to slow down. Fall is our season to complete these improvement projects, let’s hope for continued great weather and great golf!